How Northwest ski resorts are dealing with pandemic

Winter in the Northwest means skiers and snowboarders hitting the slopes across the region, with no shortage of mountains to choose from.

But in the age of the coronavirus pandemic, many resorts are making changes to their rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here are some of the region’s most popular ski areas and how they’re dealing with the pandemic.

Crystal Mountain Resort

Crystal Mountain guests are required to wear masks and practice social distancing while in common areas such as the lodge, the resort’s website says. The Mount Rainier Gondola will load fewer people into the cars and “you will only be permitted to ride with the group that you arrived with.”

While the resort is still working on its plan for chairlift operations, it “will likely include a limit on the number of non-familial riders that can be seated on a given chair.” The resort will also restrict the number of total visitors allowed on the mountain daily.

To prevent shuttles from becoming overcrowded, the resort created new access routes on Gold Hills, the Skier’s Walkway and the Employee Housing run so guests can access their vehicles more easily. The resort will also open earlier on weekends to remedy crowding and prevent congestion.

Walk-up sales will not take place and guests without a season pass must buy tickets in advance online.

The resort is expected to open for the season Nov. 20.

Stevens Pass

Skiers and snowboarders must wear face coverings “in every part” of Stevens Pass’s operation, “including while loading and riding on chairlifts and in gondolas, inside all buildings, and during all ski and snowboard lessons.” No one will be allowed on the mountain without a face covering, according to the resort’s website.

It is recommended that guests wear face coverings while skiing or snowboarding, but it is not required. Guests are allowed to use any type of face covering as long as it fully covers their mouth and nose.

Guests have to make reservations and season-pass holders will get priority access.

Only “related parties (guests skiing or riding together)” will be allowed to ride a chairlift together. Singles are still allowed, but only on four- and six-person chairs so they can sit on opposite ends.

Stevens Pass is expected to open Dec. 4.

Mount Baker

The resort will require all guests to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing inside and outside. It also requires guests to adhere to Washington state COVID-19 restrictions.

Indoor seating areas will operate at 30% capacity.

The mountain will restrict the number of guests allowed depending on conditions. If the resort implements a reservation system, Mount Baker pass-holders will get priority access.

The resort’s staff is still working on other COVID-19 guidelines for the winter season, The Seattle Times reported.

Mount Baker is scheduled to open Nov. 26.

Summit at Snoqualmie

All guests and employees will need to wear face coverings “indoors, in lift lines, on chairs, and any outdoor spaces where physical distancing cannot be maintained,” the resort’s website says. Guests are also required to maintain physical distancing “in all parts of our business.”

The resort will limit capacity in indoor areas, although the website does not provide specifics.

There will not be a reservation system for Summit pass-holders, according to The Seattle Times. The resort will limit the number of lift tickets sold daily and encourages people to buy them online in advance, the newspaper reported.

The Summit has not announced an opening date.

Mission Ridge

As with other resorts, Mission Ridge will require guests to maintain social distancing. Face coverings will be required inside and outside when “physical distancing cannot be achieved.”

The resort is asking guests to ride chairlifts with “their traveling party” and “lift attendants will not require guests to ride a chairlift with people they do not know.”

The mountain does not have a reservation system in place for pass-holders, but it may limit capacity “if needed … by tightly regulating stand-alone lift tickets and other products.”

“At this time, single-day lift tickets, outside of ticket packages, are not available,” the website says. “Daily lift tickets will be available as we get closer to the beginning of the season.”

The resort encourages people to buy tickets online once single-day tickets go on sale. In-person ticket sales may not be available on peak days.

The resort is scheduled to open Nov. 27.

Mount Hood Meadows

The resort will require guests to wear face coverings inside at all times, on shuttles, in parking lots, in the lift line, on lifts and any other outdoor locations where you can’t maintain physical distancing.

The resort will project how many people will visit for each day, then make a limited number of tickets available. “Pass holders will not need a reservation,” the resort says.

Equipment rentals will need to be “reserved and paid for in advance.” Anyone taking ski or snowboarding lessons must have a pre-arrival health screening and lessons also have to be reserved and paid for in advance.

Daycare will not be offered, in accordance with Oregon’s COVID-19 restrictions, Mount Hood’s website says.

The mountain’s website does not list an opening date.

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Brooke is native of the Pacific Northwest and most recently worked for KREM 2 News in Spokane, Washington, as a digital and TV producer. She also worked as a general assignment reporter for the Coeur d’Alene Press in Idaho. She is an alumni of Washington State University, where she received a degree in journalism and media production from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.

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